Mark’s account of “the Last Supper” includes Jesus telling the disciples that the LORD Himself would ‘strike the shepherd, and the sheep would be scattered’ (Mark 14:27 & Zechariah 3:17).  For a bunch of reasons, the image of Jesus as our Shepherd is a favourite among believers.  Think Psalm 23!  As He Himself said, He is “the good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).  His life given in sacrifice for the sheep.  Not only is He the good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep, but He is the great Shepherd who returned from the grave to give us new life (See Hebrews 13:20).  As the Bible says, “we were dead in our trespasses and sins,” but through Christ, the great Shepherd, we have the forgiveness of sins and the gift of abundant life.  He leads us out of death and into life. 

Mark presents Jesus as both the Shepherd and the sacrificial Lamb.  He is portrayed as the PASSOVER LAMB that was slain for the sins of the world.  Mark Chapter 14 details both the preparations for the Passover meal that Jesus shared with the disciples, and the actual breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup.  This Jewish festival is the most significant of all their festivals.  All the way back in the book of Exodus the Jews were instructed to slay a lamb and smear the blood over the doorposts of their home as an act of faith. 

During the “last supper,” Jesus also called out the one who would betray Him, Judas Iscariot.  We can’t help but be struck by the love and grace by which He did so.  In Jesus’ handling of the presence of a traitor at the Passover, we learn His chosen way of overcoming evil.  I can’t explain it any better than Paul did in Romans 12, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  To the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Jesus didn’t “lock horns” with Judas, rather, He owned the narrative, extended one last call for repentance and then pronounced the judgment on Judas, “Woe to the one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.” 

As Jesus instituted what we Christians sometimes call the “Lord’s Table,” He warned His disciples that they would all fall away because of the crisis that would fall upon them.  Peter, the renowned spokesperson for the disciples, refused to acknowledge his own propensity to failure.  Jesus inserted a simple promise as He delivered the warning to His disciples, But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”  In Mark Chapter 14, He is the good Shepherd, the Passover Lamb, the confronter of evil, and the restorer of the fallen.

Come on Sunday morning and study this great text with your church family. 

I look forward to seeing you there,
Pastor Deric

The Gospel “In Memory Of Mary”

If you believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, as I do, you believe that the Bible is as wise in what it says as in what it does not say.  A myriad of lessons can be learned from the Bible by (reading the empty spaces between the lines).  Mark Chapter 14 is one such case.  Upon reading the first eleven verses a student can’t help but be struck by the stark contrasts that Mark poses.  In a few sentences Mark takes us into the dark world of evil while at the same time introducing us to a giant burst of holy light.  In a staggering economy of words, Mark highlights the co-conspirators of Jesus’ crucifixion AND the woman who sacrificed enormously for the chance to worship at Jesus’ feet.  The conspiracy to kill Jesus and the betrayal of Judas, “one of the twelve,” is sandwiched between the anointing of Jesus by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (see John 12). 

The co-conspirators of Jesus’ death did everything they could to destroy Him.  But Mary, on the other hand, did everything she could to honour Him.  That’s what Jesus said about her.  “She has done what she could” (Mark 14:8).  Isn’t that a freeing statement?  What does God expect from us?  What is He asking of each of us?  It is to do what we can.  None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something.  And that something is doing what we can. 

What can we do about the evil all around us?  What do we do when faced with another betrayal of Jesus by one of His own?  The answer is simple and liberating.  Do what you can to honour Him.  Keep doing it.  For some that amounts to much more than others but our sacrifice is not based on the amount we give but on the motive of the heart.

The “high priest and scribes” were seduced by power, and Judas was seduced by greed.  As the old saying goes, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were poisoned by the power of their position.  Judas was just as evil but was poisoned by a lust for money.  Satan himself is said to have entered Judas because he loved money more than friendship, love, and loyalty to Jesus. 

But Mary was motivated by worship of Jesus.  That’s how it’s meant to be for all Christians.  The posture of our heart toward Jesus is the dividing line between good and evil.  This is an enormous help to us individually.  Do you ever feel sandwiched between corrupt power and greed in the world?  Do you ever feel caught in a world of conflicting motivations?  Then worship Jesus.  Do what you can to honour Him.

You will be attacked, ridiculed, threatened, and dismissed.  But the joy of giving your very best to Him is all that you need.  He will take care of you and of your reputation.  Note in the story that Jesus came to Mary’s defense.  “Leave her alone,” He told the complaining crowd.  I can hear the firmness in His voice as He advocates for her.  And then He adds that “wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” 

We will always have evil conspiracies to silence Jesus, and we will always have betrayers from among our ranks.  But what matters is that we do what we love the most.  Worship Jesus.  Sacrifice our all for Him.  Leave the results in His hands. 

Can’t wait to see you on Sunday as we begin our journey to Easter based on Mark’s Gospel, Chapters 14-16.  See you at 9AM or 11AM.

Pastor Deric